Prescription drug costs rising faster than overall health spending (in the US)

Observations on trends in prescription drug spending,
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

image of drug money

Key Findings

Spending on prescription drugs in the United States has risen sharply in recent years and is projected to consume an increasing share of overall healthcare, says a government report.

  • Expenditures on prescription drugs are rising and are projected to continue to rise faster than overall health spending thereby increasing this sector’s share of health care spending.
  • ASPE estimates that prescription drug spending in the United States was about $457 billion in 2015, or 16.7 percent of overall personal health care services. Of that $457 billion, $328 billion (71.9 percent) was for retail drugs and $128 billion (28.1 percent) was for non-retail drugs.
  • Factors underlying the rise in prescription drug spending from 2010 to 2014 can be roughly allocated as follows: 10 percent of that rise was due to population growth; 30 percent to an increase in prescriptions per person; 30 percent to overall, economy-wide inflation; and 30 percent to either changes in the composition of drugs prescribed toward higher price products or price increases for drugs that together drove average price increases in excess of general inflation.
  • Expenditures on specialty drugs generally appear to be rising more rapidly than expenditures on other drugs, though estimates of specialty drug expenditures are highly sensitive to which drugs are considered “specialty” products. .

Read “Observations on Trends in Prescription Drug Spending”, aspe, March 8, 2016.

Read also “US drug costs are rising faster than overall health spending, officials report“, The BMJ, 352:i1485, 11 March 2016.

2 thoughts on “Prescription drug costs rising faster than overall health spending (in the US)”

  1. I had to give up two of my medications when I lost my health plan. I was on a once a day insulin having switched from time release medformine the year before. In addition I was forced to drop another drug at the same time, a time release medformine, because it was 1000 more for a 90 day supply. Dropping these two meds saved me over two thousand five hundred dollars.
    The interesting thing is my A1C tests have dropped or 2.8 points. Without any additional diet change. If anything the more expensive drugs were far less effective than the older cheap medications.
    In liver function and kidney function has returned to fairly normal. My cholesterol is ok, as well as the blood pressure.
    Doctors have stopped telling me I need to take these meds and are trying to figure out what I’ve done in the way of life style that would cause this improvement.
    I really think I was being way over medicated,

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